It is not uncommon, unfortunately, to come across dead sea birds on our shores whilst out and about on the coast. They may have met their end due to natural causes, but perhaps also due to pollution or stormy seas preventing them feeding sufficiently.
During my recent Christmas break I was in North Wales, exploring one of the beaches on the Llyn Peninsula when I came across the remains of a bird. I was quite surprised to find it still had a metal ID ring on it. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) host a co-ordinated and Europe-wide website for reporting ring numbers, so should you ever find one the info stamped on the side will probably point you towards this website where you can fill in a brief report including the ID number. You will generally receive a reply and it’s fascinating what you can find out. My reply revealed the following information:
Ringing Scheme: London
Ring Number: 1470594
Species of bird: Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
This bird was ringed by Scan R.G as age nestling, sex unknown on 28-Jun-2014 time unknown at Puffin Island, Isle of Anglesey, UK
It was found on 02-Jan-2015 time unknown at Afon Dwyfor, near Criccieth, Gwynedd, UK
It was found 188 days after it was ringed, 49 km from the ringing site, direction SSW.
Bird Ringing in Britain & Ireland is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Each year over 900,000 birds are ringed by over 2,500 highly trained bird ringers, most of whom are volunteers. They follow a careful training process that can take several years to complete to ensure that they have the necessary skills to catch and ring birds. The bird’s welfare is always the most important consideration during ringing activities. Ringing began over 100 years ago to study the movements of birds. While it continues to generate information about movements, it also allows us to study how many young birds leave the nest and survive to breed as adults, as well as how many adults live from year to year and how many birds disperse to different breeding sites. Collection of this information helps us to understand why bird populations increase or decrease − vital information for conservation. Details of how many birds have been caught and where and when they have been found are available on the BTO website.
Some interesting facts discovered from ringing data….
Oldest bird – Manx shearwater, 50 yrs 11 months
Furthest travelled – Arctic Tern from Wales to Australia 18,000 km
Strangest recovery – Osprey ring found in stomach of a crocodile in The Gambia!
Mike – Lead Ranger